War Taxes—The Best Antidote To War

The end of the Korean War and the entirety of the Vietnam War changed that willingness to fiscal sacrifice in wartime. As my forthcoming book discusses, when the public thought the Korean War was World War III, it was willing to pay war taxes. Once they realized it was a new type of conflict, a limited war, with stakes less existential than any of the recent wars, they quickly tired of the taxes, just as Smith predicted. President Harry Truman was pilloried as “High Tax Harry” for raising taxes three times during the Korean War, and did not win re-election.